Who We Are

This is us

The power of being proximate

Our founders, Jim Taylor and Debbie Aung Din, launched Proximity Designs in 2004 with the commitment to create a social business for Myanmar’s underserved rural families. They saw farmers’ profound needs were neglected by the private, government and aid sectors. After 20 years working to make change happen in tough environments around the world, they put to use a powerful idea they learned at the start of their careers.

It was in the Mississippi Delta where they worked with social entrepreneur and civil rights leader, John Perkins, that they learned an important lesson: deep knowledge and understanding comes from living among those you aim to serve. Their problems become yours.

With these values, they moved to Myanmar and entered the rural market with 13 team members and two treadle pump models, working alongside rural farmers.

Hence, our name Proximity.

The mission

35 million rural farmers with a lot to gain

In a country where 70 percent of the population depends on agriculture, improvements in farming technology and techniques – and the credit to access them – are vital to improving living conditions.

That’s where we come in. Our mission is to increase incomes across rural Myanmar. Over the past 14 years, our customers have seen an average annual income increase of 30 percent by using our products and services, which helps put food on the table, keep kids in school and set families up for a brighter, easier future.

Agility through moments of change

While our mission has always stayed the same, over the years we’ve adapted quickly, responding to changing needs. This couldn’t have been more true in the days immediately after Cyclone Nargis hit the Ayeyarwady Delta in 2008. That year we shifted gears, employing our distribution network to eventually deliver over $16 million in emergency aid to 1.2 million farmers.

As we grow, we continuously aim to deliver the most impactful products and services for our customers. Now we see ourselves at an inflection point – moving beyond treadle pumps to scale a wider platform of agricultural services, coupled with nation-building to help Myanmar’s farmers achieve their goals.

Social and enterprising

Being a social business, our aim is to have deep sustainable impact at a large scale. Our revenue model is 65% earned revenues from the products and services we sell and 35% philanthropic capital. Our grants allow us to invest in product design, measure impact and reach thousands of rural villages.

Human-Centered Design
Designing products for the rural poor play_circle_filled

The Delta, the Dry Zone and beyond

The scale and scope of our work

Our early years of operation allowed us to create a nationwide network of field sales teams, private retailers and hundreds of independent village agents needed to deliver products and services to small farm customers across Myanmar. Today the scope of our network reaches nearly 80 percent of the farming population. We have customers in the Ayeyarwady Delta, Lower Myanmar, the central Dry Zone and the Shan hills.

The golden land

Why we focus on Myanmar

For decades, Myanmar was one of the world’s poorest and most isolated countries. We were drawn to work here because we saw the huge potential for how well-designed products and services could have a meaningful impact on the lives of millions of enterprising small-plot farmers.

Sometimes folks ask us if we have plans to expand beyond Myanmar. Simply put, our answer is no. We strongly believe it takes deep knowledge of a place and the lives of its people to have a chance at solving the complex problems of poverty and economic development. Our intention is to go deep into this large market rather than skim the surface in many different places.


Over the past five years, the pace of change in Myanmar has been dizzying. We’ve had to be especially agile to adjust to the changes our customers are experiencing. Myanmar is far behind its neighbors and millions of small farmers are still neglected and poorly served. It’s now a key moment in the country’s long history. It will take years of sustained effort, wise leadership and efficient use of investments to rebuild the nation and lift millions of rural families out of poverty.

That’s why we’re here.

Lasting impact at scale

Farming households choose to purchase our products and services because they see a quick return on their investment through higher yields, reducing crop losses and optimizing inputs. Our in-house social impact team has been interviewing hundreds of customers every year for over a decade. They measure farmer income gains that can be attributed to the use of our products and services.

Take a look at the numbers below for a snapshot of the scope and scale of our impact:

Scale100,000+ farm customers added each year on a base of over 550,000 farm families
Reach9,000 villages, 154 townships, 80% of the farming population
MedianNet gain of $250 annually per farmer income
Efficiency6x (net income gain/cost to deliver)
Economic Impact$550 million in the past 5 years
Sustainability65% of budget from earned revenue, 99.7% repayment rate on farm loans

Reports and financials

Take a peek around and hold us accountable

Here you’ll find our latest quarterly reports and financial statements.

Proximity partners

Our community of investors and collaborators

We’re fortunate to receive financial support from an outstanding group of investors and donors aligned with our mission. These include development banks, social impact foundations, governments, corporations and impact investors.

  • Alterfin
  • Autodesk
  • Cassia Foundation
  • Cordaid
  • Cotopaxi
  • David Weekley Family Foundation
  • DFID
  • Hampshire Foundation
  • Grameen Credit Agricole
  • Jasmine Social Investments
  • King Philanthropies
  • Kiva
  • Leap 201
  • LIFT
  • MCE Social Capital
  • Montpelier Foundation
  • Mulago Foundation
  • Noorda Foundation
  • Norfund
  • Omidiyar Network
  • Peery Foundation
  • Royal Norwegian Government
  • Skoll Foundation
  • Symbiotics S.A
  • Yoma Bank


We are honored to be recipients of The Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship, The Curry Stone Design Prize, Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur of the Year and The Ashden Award for Energy and Agriculture.

The team

Meet a few of our designers, innovators, thinkers and doers

We’ve got some serious talent at Proximity. All 800 of us – from the farmer-turned-sales staff, to the ballroom-dancing General Manager – bring valuable, unique perspectives to our work. Here’s a sampling of some of the people who make up Proximity.

  • Jim Taylor
    Co-Founder, CEO Popcorn Addict
  • Debbie Aung Din Taylor
    Co-Founder, Proximity Research Lead Meditation Enthusiast
  • Yamin Myo Nyunt
    Head of Proximity School Bibliophile
  • Seng Nu Pan
    Head of People Operations Adventurous Cook
  • Sai Han Linn
    National Sales Director, Yetagon Irrigation Family Man
  • Michael Van Den Berg
    Chief Financial Officer Haruki Murakami Fan
  • Phyu Hninn Nyein
    General Manager, Farm Advisory Services Waltzer
  • Aung Ko Ko
    Supply Chain Manager, Yetagon Irrigation F1 Fanatic
  • Geoffrey Brewerton
    Art Director, Creative Services Lethwei Boxer
  • Min Kaung Khant
    Associate, Proximity Research Instagram Caption King
  • Khine Yee Hlaing
    Finance Manager Soul Singer
  • Sithu Thein Swe
    Analytics Manager, Farm Advisory Services Fried Chicken Fiend
  • Aurora Kazi Bassett
    Business Development Manager Tree Historian
  • Aye Nyein Aung
    Soil Health Diagnostic Service Manager, Farm Advisory Services Foodaholic
  • Hsu Mon Htet
    Product Manager, Yetagon Farm Advisory Services Jokester
  • Paing Hein Htet
    Digital Services Manager, Farm Advisory Services Tech Enthusiast
  • Su Su Khine
    Audit and Compliance Manager Music Lover
  • Ben Warren
    Head of Strategy and Finance, Proximity Finance Small Wave Surfer
  • Grace Su
    Social Impact Manager Adventurer
  • Aung Moe
    Field Operations Manager, Proximity Finance Party Animal
  • Seinn Nwe Oo
    Finance Manager, Proximity Finance Super Mom
  • Kyaw Zaya
    Team Leader, IT Thespian
  • Jon Hiebert
    Funding Relations and Special Projects Manager, Proximity Finance City Cyclist
  • May Thu Zaw
    Product Development Manager, Proximity Finance Happy-go-lucky
  • Oak Soe
    Analytics Manager, Yetagon Irrigation Philomath
  • Phyu Phyu Pyae
    Head of Trainers, Proximity School Quiet Doodler
  • Taiei Harimoto
    Head of Proximity Labs Canoe Dancer
  • Su Zun Mon
    Senior Product Designer, Proximity Labs Anime Aficionado
  • Soe Htike Lwin
    Business Operations Manager, Proximity Finance Archer
  • Lwin Mar Htun
    Finance Business Partner, Farm Advisory Services Karaoke All-star
  • Kyaw Kyaw Naing
    Project Director, Digital Initiatives Home Chef
  • Man Cha Koe
    Farm Advisory Services Avid Reader

Our board

Minos Athanassiadis, Jim Taylor, Debbie Aung Din, Elisabeth Eilers and Joel Epstein.